Family and Health
The Vermont Migrant Education Identification and Recruitment Program finds and enrolls every migratory child and youth in the state who is under the age of 22 and who has moved with a family member, a guardian or independently on their own in order to seek or obtain temporary or seasonal work in qualifying agricultural or logging activities. All staff are bilingual and the program serves as a bridge connecting farm workers to various educational, community and health services. Eligible farm workers or children of farm workers may receive educational resources.
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The Vermont Migrant Education Program (VMEP)
Additional VMEP information:
- Program information: The Vermont Migrant Education Program provides educational support services to children (age 21 and under) of families that relocate in order to obtain seasonal or temporary employment in agriculture.
These free services can include free books, tutoring, homework support, English as a second language support, summer programs, and referrals to local resources. Migratory Child: A child who is, or whose parent or spouse is, a migratory agricultural worker and who in the preceding 36 months in order to obtain, or accompany such parent or spouse, in order to obtain, temporary or seasonal employment in agricultural or fishing work and has moved from one school district to another. A child/youth is eligible up until their 22nd birthday or until they obtain their high school diploma or its equivalent.
In Vermont, migrant families who qualify for the Migrant Education Program (MEP) under federal guidelines work in such agricultural-related fields as: dairy farming, fruit orchards, vegetable fields, food processing plants, nurseries, and logging.
Children of migrant workers and adolescents that are working independently are among the neediest and least visible of Vermont’s population groups. Because of their transience and isolation, it is easy for these students to fall out of step academically and socially.
The percentage of migrant students leaving school before graduation has historically been among the highest single minority group. Studies show that 50% of migrant children have been retained in school by the 2nd grade and 50% of all children held back in school do not graduate. If a child is held back for a second time, 90-95% will never graduate. Therefore, 50% of migrant students are already deemed to never graduate high school by the second grade! (Source: ESCORT, the migrant consulting service for the nation.)
- Role and logistics: The Vermont Department of Education in conjunction with UVM Extension and local supervisory unions serve these children through the federally funded Title I Migrant Education Program. The primary goal of the Migrant Education Program is to locate all migrant children and families in the country and provide supplemental educational services to those who are either struggling academically or socially in their school environment, or provide educational services to those who may currently not be attending school at all.
The federal Migrant Education Program was initially created as part of Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty in the 1960’s. Currently running strong across our entire nation, Migrant Education Programs serve hundreds of thousands of migrant students each year.
In the state of Vermont, the MEP is run by the Vermont Department of Education and provides the supplemental educational services once the students are identified and “on program.” However, in its efforts to identify all migratory children in the state, it has contracted with University of Vermont Extension as the source for all of the program's identification and recruitment outreach. The process of recruitment in Vermont provides the foundation upon which our services are built. UVM Extension MEP recruitment staff work closely with the Vermont Department of Education, supervisory unions, local schools, teachers, parents, community service agencies, the UVM Extension network, and, of course, the agricultural community.
- Identification and recruitment: Recruitment in Vermont is especially challenging since migrant families are moving in one of the most rural areas of the nation. In order to successfully accomplish our mission, to find every migrant child in the state and enroll them into our program, we rely heavily on the cooperation and support of others. Therefore, one of the most important aspects of recruitment for the Vermont Migrant Education Program is to build strong relationships throughout our state so that individuals and agencies will make active referrals to our program.
Aside from getting our program's name out, the recruiter's three primary functions are to locate, interview, and enroll eligible families for the Migrant Education Program. Since the client population is by nature transient and not highly visible, recruiters need a certain amount of persistence to get the job done.
We like to call recruitment staff the “face of the program” because recruiters are the very first staff members to visit migrant families in the state. Recruiters must be responsive to a wide variety of conditions. Some visits may require no action while others may call for an immediate referral to other staff or agencies. Not only is it challenging to locate families but with our changing population of farm laborers we now have cultural and language barriers. That is why we are happy to say that all recruitment staff members are bi-lingual in the English and Spanish languages.
- Identifying families: Each recruitment specialist is assigned to a specific region of the state and is responsible for locating families, determining their eligibility status, and submitting necessary documentation prior to student enrollment in the program.
Prior to the new school year and throughout October, recruiters spend their time visiting each and every school in their region. Local schools are the primary source of referrals to the Vermont Migrant Education Program. Any time a new student enrolls into their new school we ask that the "Agricultural Employment Survey" (available in both English and Spanish) be distributed along with the school's other required new student enrollment forms. When completed by the family, this form is returned to the school and then to the Identification and Recruitment Office for review. It is with this information that we can help identify who is moving around the state and working in agriculture. If the family checks off that they are working in the agricultural field, it is our cue to contact the family and see if they are eligible for our educational services.
During early spring and throughout the summer, recruiters can be found making farm visits. This is the time of year when many migrant families and workers move on to new jobs. These regular visits to farms helps lead recruiters to new students. Not only is it important for recruiters to know their regions "like the back of their hand," but to meet and befriend the farming community is equally important. These relationships bring some of the most consistent and straightforward referrals. When a farmer knows about the Vermont Migrant Education Program and informs a recruiter it is a sure sign that our efforts are working.
When all the farms have been visited and each school in the state is up to date with current forms and information for the school year, there is always time to visit the many social service agencies in the region. Agencies like the Farmworkers Program, Women Infants Children (WIC), PATH offices, Central Vermont Community Action Councils (CVCAC), Adult Basic Education Agencies are all on the list of agencies the recruiters regularly visit. There is also an entire network of drop-in centers, foodshelves, grain and feed dealers, laundromats, and general stores where it never hurts to post an informational ad with a local number to call for service.
- Services and applications: When a Recruiter first visits a family or individual for an interview, they arrive bearing gifts. As a literacy program, we feel it is our duty to supply students with a plethora of books. We provide age-appropriate reading materials, dictionaries, maps, pencils, notebooks, crayons, etc. Recruiters also maintain a local area contact list of other available services in the area. As the “specialists” in their field, recruiters are able to give sound referrals to other agencies that may benefit the family.
If the family is found to meet all the requirements of the program, they are signed up and will remain “on program” for 3 years. If the family/student moves again during this time, they are re-enrolled for another 3 years each time they move for a different qualifying job in agriculture. If the family stays in one place and terminates the migrant agricultural labor force, at the end of the initial 3-year enrollment term our job is done and the family’s eligibility will end. All services provided by the Vermont Migrant Education Program are FREE and there are no income guidelines.
Once the recruiter submits the eligibility forms to the Vermont Department of Education and all the paperwork goes through, the recruiter's job is done until the family or individual moves again. From this point onward, the Department of Education process begins and provides any needed supplemental educational services. Just as the recruiters have individual regional areas, the Department of Education has regional areas depicting Migrant Education teacher regions. Therefore, each student is assessed individually by a local Migrant Education educator to determine what services are needed and then most often this is the educator that provides the supplemental educational services. Services range from in-school help during regular classes to at-home private tutoring sessions, summer educational programming and English Language lessons. The supplemental services are formulated to meet the individual’s educational needs. It is also possible that the student or family needs/desires no extra educational services at the time they are determined eligible for the Vermont Migrant Education Program. At any time during the eligibility period, the Department of Education may be contacted to reassess the individual’s educational situation.
- How can you help? If you know of a family/individual that may qualify for our program
there are several ways in which you may refer them to our program:
- Download and complete the referral form (PDF) and mail it to the address located on the form, or contact our toll-free number, 1-866-860-1382 ext. 20, and give your referral to our State Recruitment Office.
- Offer this family or individual an "Agricultural Employment Survey" (available in both English and Spanish) website.* When completed, you may mail the form to the address located on the top of the form or have the family mail it to us.
Any time we receive a referral or an "Agricultural Employment Survey" a recruitment specialist for that specific region contacts the family to see if the children or individual is eligible and if so enrolls them into the program.
Last modified October 14 2011 10:20 AM